Wednesday, June 27, 2007

July Music Preview

July looks like it has the potential to be a fairly strong and heavy month, provided that things break the right way. Unlike June, there seem to be very few obvious clunkers – Chris Cornell, this means you. Onto the releases:

Chemical Brothers/ We Are The Night – Delayed from 6/19, here’s what we wrote last month:
After a few lackluster records, the Chems returned with a force in 2005 with Push The Button, largely due to guest appearances ranging from Q-Tip (A Tribe Called Quest), Tim Burgess (Charlatans UK), Kele Okereke (Bloc Party), to The Magic Numbers. They’ve toned down the reliance on friends with their new offering, preferring to see if the music can stand on its own. The jury’s out on this one.

Chemical Brothers On MySpace Music

New Tracks:
Entire Record Streaming As Of This Writing

Velvet Revolver/ Libertad – Supergroups often have a problem duplicating their previous bands’ successes, which is something that Velvet Revolver struggled with on their debut album. That being said, fans of STP and GN’R are going to flock to this record regardless of its quality.

Velvet Revolver On MySpace Music

New Tracks:
“She Builds Quick Machines”

Crowded House/ Time On Earth – The Finn brothers reunite for the first time under the Crowded House name in fourteen years. “Don’t Dream It’s Over” is one of the best songs of all time so these guys get a long leash.

Crowded House On MySpace Music

New Tracks:
“Don’t Stop Now”

Interpol/ Our Love To Admire – Interpol’s first album, Turn On The Bright Lights, may have been the best debut of the past decade but their follow up, Antics, stalled out well short of their standard. Our Love To Admire will hopefully tell us who the real Interpol is. Based on its first single, “The Heinrich Maneuver,” there’s unfortunately every reason to be afraid that they’re not the band that we thought they were.

Interpol On MySpace Music

New Tracks:
“The Heinrich Maneuver”

Smashing Pumpkins/ Zeitgeist – Ohhhh boy. The Smashing Pumpkins are back. Scratch that – two fifths of Zwan CALLING themselves the Smashing Pumpkins are back and does this album ever have train wreck written all over it. Let’s all take a moment to weep for Siamese Dream because this record’s likely to shit all over its memory.

Smashing Pumpkins On MySpace Music

New Tracks:
None, because Billy Corgan is an egomaniacal asshole, although first single “Tarantula” is pretty much terrible.

Spoon/ Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga – Coming on the heels of their breakthrough, Gimme Fiction, and frontman Britt Daniel’s work on the score/soundtrack for Stranger Than Fiction, it should be interesting to see if Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (wow, that’s a horrendous title) can catapult them to the crossover level of fellow indie acts The Shins and Modest Mouse.

Spoon On MySpace Music

New Tracks:
“The Underdog”
“The Ghost Of You Lingers”

Editors/ An End Has A Start – US release date; Out in the UK in June, here’s what we wrote last month:
This one’s a bit of a surprise as one of 2006’s best new bands returns a scant year later with their follow up. If its anything like its forbear, An End Has A Start has a chance to be something spectacular.

Editors On MySpace Music

New Tracks:
“Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors”

The Magic Numbers/ Those The Brokes – The British collective brings their California-pop influenced sound stateside for a sophomore set. Imagine a limey Mamas & Papas and you basically have The Magic Numbers. To quote Bob Ryan on Entourage, “Does that sound like something you might be interested in?”

The Magic Numbers On MySpace Music

New Tracks:
“Take A Chance”

Talib Kweli/ Eardrum – One half of the critically adored Black Star returns with his third solo outing. Fans of intelligent hip-hop everywhere, rejoice, but also tremble in the fact that no-talent sellout of the Black Eyed Peas produced a couple of the tracks.

Talib Kweli On MySpace Music

New Tracks [Samples Only]:
“Hot Thing”
“Say Something”
“More Or Less”

Prince/ Planet Earth – Yes, 3121 was a disappointment but it’s just great seeing Prince make music again. After his blistering set at halftime of the Super Bowl, anticipation and expectation is high for this one.

No MySpace Available

Silverchair/ Young Modern – Dave… this one’s for you. God knows you’re the only fan they have left.

Silverchair On MySpa… yeah, no one really cares.

Tegan & Sara/ The Con – Lesbian twin sisters from Canada. Does it get more indie than that? Joking aside, The Dirtywhirl isn’t looking forward to any record in July more than this one. Their last, So Jealous, was a near-perfect slice of indie pop and early word on The Con promises more of the same.

Tegan & Sara On MySpace Music

New Tracks:
“Back In Your Head”
“The Con”

Common/ Finding Forever – As one of the few hip-hop artists worth a damn creatively, it’s been more than a little troubling to see Common selling out in Gap and Coke ads as well as whoring himself out for a cameo on Joss Stone’s latest record. Here’s to hoping that he has at least a sliver of his former artistic integrity left.

Common On MySpace Music

New Tracks:
“The People”
“The Game”

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Quick N' Dirty Reviews

Kings Of Leon/ Because Of The Times
For some reason, Kings Of Leon have had an easier go of things in the UK than they have at home in the US. They are the rare American band that enjoys superstar status across the pond while struggling to sell records and gain airplay in their native country. All of this could be on the verge of changing because this is the album that will break them huge... provided there’s any justice in the world. For their third release, Because Of The Times, Kings Of Leon decided to roll in the dirt and have come up grimy and filthy. Everything about this record is dirty in the literal sense of the word (if not the contextual one as well). Fuzzed out guitars… primal screaming… classic Skynyrd licks… the smell of the South just wafts off of the record. They have perfected their gumbo of garage rock and Southern rock into the tightest, most textured album of their career. The vitality of this entirely unconventional band is palpable throughout the course of Because Of The Times. To listen to this record is to hear a band improving before your very ears. This is not the same Kings Of Leon that recorded Youth And Young Manhood, or even the one that was responsible for Aha Shake Heartbreak. Instead, you’re listening to a tighter, more mature, and yes, more talented band that has improved in leaps and bounds, particularly when talking about their instrumental skill. The harmonics that shimmer through and provide the backbone for opener “Knocked Up;” the perfectly dirty and fuzzy guitars of “Charmer” and “McFearless;” bassist Jared Followill thrusting to the forefront on lead single “On Call;” the channeling of Skynyrd on “Camaro;” all of it evidence that makes it seem like these guys’ chops came on overnight. While in the past it would have been easy to dismiss Kings Of Leon as a creation of the music press, that theory is no longer accurate. They stand on their own now and, looking where they are at this very moment, it’s downright scary to imagine where they could be if they keep improving at their current pace. If that happens, good luck ignoring them because that will become an impossible task.

Dirty Rating: 86/100

Kings Of Leon On MySpace Music
Kings Of Leon's Official Site

Lily Allen/ Alright, Still
Ever since the night that Satan and Celine Dion had a few drinks, bumped uglies, and spawned American Idol as a result, pop music has become a zone completely devoid of creativity in the music industry. Completely interchangeable cookie-cutter acts became the norm and anything that attempted to challenge that norm was summarily dismissed. Luckily, after years and years of drivel, signs of life have begun sprouting up meaning that either the American public is getting smarter (not likely) or that artists have finally taken matters into their own hands. Lily Allen without a doubt fits this take-charge profile. Her debut, Alright, Still, was released to much acclaim in her native UK in 2006 and finally made its way to the US earlier this year. Along with fellow British party girl Amy Winehouse, Allen is responsible for a budding renaissance of quality pop music in 2007. Opening track “Smile” serves as a perfect introduction to Alright, Still as Allen masks fairly sinister lyrics detailing revenge against a cheating lover with a cheerful melody that proves to be one of the better pop singles of the year. Much of the record follows in this vein with its summery feel provided by the utilization of a light and frothy production on “LDN” and “Everything’s Just Wonderful,” as well as a healthy fascination with reggae that shows up on tracks like “Friday Night,” “Shame For You,” and “Friend Of Mine.” Production aside, perhaps the best weapon that Allen has at her disposal is her attitude, which she could bottle in gallon jugs if she were so inclined. The aforementioned “Smile” and “Not Big” are just downright brutal dismissals of exes and the album’s best track, “Knock ‘Em Out,” sounds like The Streets with boobies as it contemplates the best way for a girl to deflect unwanted advances from losers at a club. For everyone who’s been sleeping on pop music… wake the fuck up because it’s a brand new day and a rebirth is in the offing. Who would have thought that a crazy little thing like talent could revive a slumbering genre?

Dirty Rating: 79/100

Lily Allen On MySpace Music
Lily Allen's Official Site

Sondre Lerche/ Phantom Punch
Can someone please help Sondre Lerche figure out who he wants to be? Is he the singer/songwriter of Two Way Monologue? The jazz singer of The Duper Sessions? Or is he the no-talent hack that’s evident on his latest, Phantom Punch? It’s almost as if Lerche read the press clippings that the Arctic Monkeys were receiving last year and thought, “Hey – I should do THAT!” Tragically no, you can’t, Sondre. It’s bad enough that you tried to rip off an act as overrated as the Arctic Monkeys, but for good measure you decided to rape the Beatles’ music along with it. That’s criminal and you should be ashamed of yourself. Phantom Punch is an exercise in tedium, what with its annoying repetition (“Airport Taxi Reception” and “She’s Fantastic”), inane lyrics (“Tragic Mirror”), Arctic Monkey blow jobs (“The Tape” and “Face The Blood”), and shameless Beatles riff-stealing (“Say It All”). Perhaps no song better illustrates the frustration that one feels in listening to Phantom Punch than “John, Let Me Go.” Starting out with an interesting dub beat that lasts, oh, ten seconds before spiraling into yet more boring lyrics and forgettable guitarwork, Lerche teases you into thinking that there’s something here when in reality there’s nothing. Kinda like his career.

Dirty Rating: 37/100

Sondre Lerche On MySpace Music
Sondre Lerche's Official Site

Monday, June 18, 2007

Quick N' Dirty Reviews

Modest Mouse/ We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank
When an indie band signs to a major label, the challenge is always to maintain as much of their sound as possible when using resources that are often thousands of times better than what they’d had access to on previous records. The lure of sanding down the rough edges that give the band their personality in the first place into a smooth, glossy sheen is sometimes too much for some groups to overcome. Luckily, Modest Mouse ignored these conventional temptations to produce the two best records of their career in The Moon And Antarctica and Good News For People Who Love Bad News. With their latest, We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank (their third outing on Epic Records), Isaac Brock & Co. run their amazing winning streak to three for three on a major. We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank is also the first Modest Mouse record to feature legendary Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr as a member of the band, and what an addition he proves to be. Due to Brock’s status as one of the preeminent lyricists in rock, it’s quite a feat to say that the instrumentation on a Modest Mouse record outshines the lyrics but that’s exactly what happens here. That’s not to say that Brock is off his game at all – it’s just that Marr is so incredible and adds such a giant new element to the band that Brock’s words are eclipsed for maybe the first time ever. From the ascending break in “Fire It Up,” to the buoyant intro of “We’ve Got Everything,” to the gently beautiful work in “Little Motel” (the most gorgeous song the band has ever recorded), Marr’s fingerprints litter the entire record. The addition of Marr also helps the band to perfect the dance-rock fusion that began on 2004’s Good News For People Who Love Bad News this time around with “Invisible” and “Dashboard,” the most infectious single of Modest Mouse’s career. Lest anyone think that this is a full-on guitar rock album, the cantankerous Brock that Modest Mouse fans have come to know and love does take center stage on tracks like “March Into The Sea,” “Parting Of The Sensory,” and the appropriately titled “Spitting Venom.” Since the full-time addition of a guitar legend whose greatest success occurred in the mid-‘80’s isn’t usually one of the tricks that comes along with major label status, I say Isaac Brock… you are one magnificent bastard. By refusing to rest on convention and avoiding the easy road you’ve managed to put out one of the best records of your career.

Dirty Rating: 90/100

Modest Mouse On MySpace Music
Modest Mouse's Official Site

Field Music/ Tones Of Town
To paraphrase Spinal Tap member David St. Hubbins, “It’s such a fine line between homage, and rip-off,” and Field Music definitely tap dances with said line on their second release, Tones Of Town. As a nothing-spectacular indie band, Field Music apparently felt that they needed some sort of clever hook in order to grab people’s attention. This perhaps explains why they chose to play the role of a poor man’s XTC, thus enabling anyone with even a thimbleful of musical knowledge to recognize that they have borrowed heavily (read: stolen) from their British forbears. To their credit, however, in order to avoid being dismissed as a full-on tribute band Field Music throws in a dash of ‘70’s California pop (a la more talented countrymen The Magic Numbers) on “Give It Lose It Take It,” and a drop of early Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd on “Kingston,” but the majority of the album is XTC-by-numbers. “A House Is Not A Home,” “In Context,” and “Working To Work” all act as the bloody glove, as it were. Yes… I’m employing ten-year-old pop culture references, but since Field Music is stealing from a mid-‘80’s act I felt it only appropriate. Essentially, Field Music is the type of band that does some things well but doesn’t do anything great, especially when their quirkiness turns grating. These bands don’t have much of a shelf life and, by some accounts, Field Music will be splitting after fulfilling promotional engagements for Tones Of Town. This is probably for the best. Speaking as someone who’s not entirely sure if the world really needed the first XTC, I’m damn positive that we really didn’t need a half-baked, half-assed version as well.

Dirty Rating: 51/100

Field Music On MySpace Music
Field Music's Official Site

The Earlies/ The Enemy Chorus
You’ve probably never heard of The Earlies and, based on The Enemy Chorus, chances are you never will. The Enemy Chorus is a completely nondescript collection of electro-tinged indie rock that – I’ll be honest – I completely forgot about roughly ten seconds after I first listened to it. Nothing on the album is objectionable, but nothing is memorable either. Imagine The Beta Band stripped of everything that makes them interesting and you’ll basically have a reasonable facsimile of The Earlies. They do utilize some semi-intriguing beats at times, and the opening vocals on “Burn The Liars” kinda make you think of a stoned Neil Diamond, but that description sounds more remarkable than it actually is. There are numerous times throughout the course of its ponderous 50 minute running time that you wish that they’d just pull out something that would grab you by the throat, but they seem incapable of doing so. This inability to take charge makes it really difficult to imagine who could ever be interested in this band, other than people who like their music really bland and pale. If that’s what you’re looking for… frankly, what the hell’s wrong with you? Seriously – develop better taste. If that’s too much to ask, The Enemy Chorus might have been made just for you. God knows The Earlies can probably use any fan they can get.

Dirty Rating: 38/100

The Earlies On MySpace Music
The Earlies' Official Site

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Movies You Should Netflix

Half Nelson
Star-making performances don’t come along every day. It’s not often that you watch a film just knowing with certainty that you’re watching an actor become truly great before your very eyes, but that’s exactly what happens as you watch Ryan Gosling (The Believer) in Half Nelson. His portrayal of Dan Dunne, a crack addicted middle school teacher in Brooklyn, is astonishing. The film follows Dan, a gifted teacher who has an obvious rapport with his students, particularly Drey (Sharika Epps), a young girl who plays on the basketball team that Dan coaches. After an unsettling run-in with an ex-girlfriend following a game, Dan retreats to the decaying girls’ locker room (which he assumes is empty) to get high, only to have Drey discover him in his altered state. This incident serves as the starting point for the deepening of Dan and Drey’s delicate relationship – because of an absent father and an incarcerated older brother, she is searching for a male role model and seemingly chooses Dan to be that figure in her life. Drey can identify with Dan as they’re both painfully alone, which is partly what leads her to also seek out the guidance of Frank (Anthony Mackie, She Hate Me), a drug dealer who her brother is sitting in jail to protect. Frank feels partially responsible for Drey’s situation so he takes her under his wing even though he seems to have ulterior business-related motives, which does not sit well with Dan. First-time director Ryan Fleck structures Half Nelson to show Dan and Frank as opposing forces vying for control of Drey, paralleling the lesson on opposites that Dan teaches his students. A lesser film would have made one a clear-cut hero and the other an obvious villain, but it becomes clear that each have their flaws as well as their strengths. Gosling in particular rises to the challenge of playing such a complex character as he evokes the quiet intensity of a young Robert De Niro. It’s impossible to look anywhere else when he’s onscreen because you’re riveted wondering where he’s going to go next. Gosling subtly plays Dan as someone who is in control for the most part when he’s around his students (and watching Drey in particular gives him purpose), but ultimately he lets his demons get the better of him, leading to a heartbreaking scene in a ratty motel room late in the film. Fleck deserves note for shooting the film in an almost documentarian style that adds to the gritty realism of the subject matter. He also peppers the soundtrack with the appropriately chaotic sounds of Canadian band Broken Social Scene, but this film first and foremost belongs to Gosling. That a performance of this caliber comes from a former member of the Mickey Mouse Club boggles the mind. Mark my words -- we're going to look back on Half Nelson twenty years from now as the moment that made Ryan Gosling.

Dirty Rating: 85/100

Other Reviews Of Half Nelson On Metacritic

Monday, June 11, 2007

Quick N' Dirty Reviews

Fields/ Everything Last Winter
Rising from the fetid morass that is the current British music scene is Fields’ debut full-length, Everything Last Winter. Most of the acts coming out of the UK these days that are championed by NME and the like suffer from an affliction that I call soundus sameusis – they all sound exactly the same. You know what you’re getting before you even peel off the shrinkwrap or finish the download – whichever you prefer. Luckily, Fields is the exception to this ever-aggravating rule. Maybe it’s because they’re not full-blooded, bad-toothed British – female co-vocalist/keyboardist Porunn Antonia is Icelandic – but whatever the reason, Everything Last Winter is the type of record that’s so eclectic that you’re bound to have a different favorite song each time you listen to it. It’s an amazingly fascinating mixture of indie rock, Britpop, and shoegaze – often within the space of the same song – that’s backed by the truly anthemic guitarwork of lead axeman Jamie Putnam. In addition, the vocal interplay between Antonia and co-vocalist Nick Peill works to perfection. Nowhere is this more evident than on “You Brought This On Yourself,” which combines all of the above elements to form one of the year’s most dazzling tracks. “Song For The Fields,” “Feathers,” and especially “The Death” epitomize Fields’ shoegaze influence, while “Charming The Flames” represents for straight indie rock with its guitars building to a lather that explodes at the end. Everything Last Winter is like many debut albums in that it experiments with different sounds to see what works but unlike the majority it never strains in doing so. Everything on this record fits. Amusingly, on “You Don’t Need This Song (To Fix Your Broken Heart),” Peill and Antonia appeal, “Sing this song like any other one/ ‘Cause they’re all the same.” The irony is that not only do Fields not sound like any other current band but no song on Everything Last Winter is the same either, which is why you’re looking at one of 2007’s best releases at the halfway point of the year.

Dirty Rating: 93/100

Fields On MySpace Music
Fields' Official Site

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club/ Baby 81
As the indie music landscape has blown up in recent years with more and more acts crossing over further into the mainstream, it’s become trendy to bash bands for altering their sound as the assumption is that they’re trying to make themselves more palatable to the masses. Never mind the fact that some of these acts are evolving into something greater than they were. More than almost any other band on the indie scene, critics love to shit on Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. “They sound too much like The Jesus And Mary Chain…they’re derivative… they’re boring… they’re overhyped… blah… blah… blah.” Ignore that bullshit and just listen to their records, specifically their latest, Baby 81. BRMC entered the music industry on a wall of feedback-drenched guitars in the late ‘90’s and stayed consistent with this sound on their first two releases, but took a left turn by surprisingly retreating into Americana-influenced country-blues on their last release in 2005, Howl. What Baby 81 does more than anything else is fuse these two completely disparate sounds into a very exciting and fresh hybrid genre. Opening with a jackhammer combination of “Took Out A Loan,” “Berlin,” and the politicized “Weapon Of Choice” only serves to demonstrate the raw power of the band before scaling it back a few notches with the piano-driven “Windows.” BRMC continues to deftly move from brawn (“Lien On Your Dreams” and “Need Some Air”) to fragility (“All You Do Is Talk” and “Am I Only”) throughout the rest of the course of Baby 81. Although there are a couple of clunkers along the way (the “You’re a 666 conducer/ How do you do the things you do, sir?” refrain of “666 Conducer” being a sizable one), BRMC has nevertheless recorded their most diverse record yet with perhaps their highest percentage of memorable tracks. They haven’t quite perfected it yet, so show a little patience because it’s loooong past time that the fucking haters give them their due. They’re only getting better and better with each record.

Dirty Rating: 84/100

BRMC On MySpace Music
BRMC's Official Site

Joseph Arthur & The Lonely Astronauts/ Let’s Just Be
Joseph Arthur… you’ve gone horribly, horribly wrong. After the critical acclaim that followed his first few releases back in the late ‘90’s/early ‘00’s, Arthur has gone completely off the deep end with his latest, Let’s Just Be. Every kind of excess that an artist can fall victim to is apparent on this record. Twenty minute exercise in complete wankery (“Lonely Astronaut”)? Check. Inane studio banter in between tracks meant to create an “edgy” feel? Check. The sound of a friggin’ minute-long bong hit to open a track (“Good Life”)? Double check. This record is essentially a druggy mess – no one names a song “Cocaine Shoes” without being hopped up on some manner of goofball. Using his new (and utterly forgettable) backing band, The Lonely Astronauts, Arthur succeeds in nothing more than occasionally sounding like a broke-ass Exile-era Rolling Stones. Most of the time, this record is unlistenable. If you’re a fan of Arthur, you can applaud him for taking risks but you also call him out for laying a colossal turd of an album. It hurts to recognize that the artist who gave the world Redemption’s Son and Come To Where I’m From is seemingly dead and buried, although his ghost does occasionally haunt Let’s Just Be (“Spaceman,” “Take Me Home,” “Lack A Vision”). Ultimately, however, it’s not enough to save this record from its creator and its status as a complete and utter failure. Listen up, kids – drugs are often bad for you and shouldn’t be consumed in massive doses while recording an album. Let’s Just Be proves this beyond all reasonable doubt.

Dirty Rating: 18/100

Joseph Arthur On MySpace Music
Joseph Arthur's Official Site

Thursday, June 7, 2007

The Dirtywhirl Shells Out For Movie Tickets

Knocked Up
It’s a rare filmmaker who can not only make you constantly laugh out loud throughout the course of his work, but also make you sit back after you’ve finished it and go, “Damn, that was a GOOD movie.” Comedies by their very nature usually don’t carry the same weight as dramas, and the good ones are thus often dismissed as not being “good films.” With his last two features, writer/director Judd Apatow (The 40-Year-Old Virgin) is obliterating this long-held belief. Although TV viewers failed to appreciate Apatow earlier in his career – Freaks And Geeks and Undeclared were both beloved by their loyal (read: miniscule) audiences, but ignored by the masses – he has fashioned a new career as the go-to guy for intelligently bawdy comedies that delicately conceal a more uplifting message. Knocked Up follows in the footsteps of The 40-Year-Old Virgin as a vulgarly entertaining laughfest that also makes a poignant statement about relationships and the personal growth that often comes along as a result. Ben (Seth Rogen, The 40-Year-Old Virgin) is a shiftless layabout who, along with his stoner friends, has come up with an idea for a website where not only will its customers be able to view their favorite actresses’ nude scenes on demand, but they’ll be able to tell how far into the movie they occur. Turns out no one ever told these guys about Mr. Skin. It seems unlikely that a loser like this would be able to land Alison (Katherine Heigl, Grey’s Anatomy), an impossibly beautiful PA for E! Entertainment Television who receives a promotion to on-air talent, but after a chance meeting at a club and lots and lots of alcohol later, the two retreat to her place to hook up. A mishap with a condom – they work better when they’re on your cock and not on the floor – leads to Alison getting pregnant and hilarity ensues. The film follows the twists and turns in Ben and Alison’s burgeoning relationship while simultaneously comparing it with the seemingly loveless marriage of Alison’s sister, Debbie (Leslie Mann, The Cable Guy) and her husband, Pete (Paul Rudd, Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy). This is where one of the strengths of Knocked Up lies – in the characterization of its four principal characters. Each of the four has a distinct arc that allows us to see them move from one point to another in their lives throughout the course of the film. This is uncommon in today’s comedy world as there are too many Wild Hogs and Epic Movies where logic and intelligence take a vacation. Adding to the skillful characterization, there’s also a comfort level with the actors as (with the exception of Heigl) all worked with Apatow in the past. This results in great interplay and hilarious improvisation, particularly between Rogen and Rudd. I’m telling you – put those two onscreen for an hour and a half and just let ‘em go. Pure comedy gold. Although Rogen struggles somewhat in trying to carry his first film as a lead and nothing in the movie approaches the daringly inspired (and notorious) chest waxing scene in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, there’s still enough here to put Knocked Up ahead of 99% of the other comedies that Hollywood has been shitting out lately. You could do much, much worse than this.

Dirty Rating: 82/100

Other Reviews Of Knocked Up On Metacritic

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Jericho Still Lives

Never thought I'd see the day that a fan campaign would actually bring a show back from the dead, but Jericho fans have done just that. Kudos to CBS for actually listening to its viewers -- what a novel concept. Now, by my math CBS owns The CW which means that if the parent company can do it, CW head Dawn Ostroff damn well better bring Veronica Mars back now. Hey -- a guy can dream, right?

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

June Music Preview

We’re just about at the halfway point of the year and the month of June looks, in a word, craptacular. Judge for yourself. Or better yet – listen to me. Giddyup:

Chris Cornell/ Carry On – Is it possible that Chris Cornell is completely used up? Every Audioslave record was a limp exercise in pieces that don’t fit well together; Cornell’s last solo effort, Euphoria Morning, was atrocious; and the early returns on Carry On say that the James Bond theme, “You Know My Name,” is the strongest track on the record. That’s. Not. Good.

Chris Cornell On MySpace Music

New Tracks:
Entire Album Streaming As Of This Writing

Paul McCartney/ Memory Almost Full – Ugh. At least Terry Bradshaw doesn’t duet on this album. Why did all of the talented Beatles have to die? To say that Macca’s solo career has been spotty at best would be downright charitable of me. And I’m nothing if not charitable… when I’m not being an asshole, that is.

Paul McCartney doesn’t have a MySpace. Probably too busy still trying to figure out how to fuck over John Lennon.

Dizzee Rascal/ Maths + English – Dizzee Rascal’s records definitely aren’t for everyone, but if you’re feeling adventurous you could definitely do worse. Here’s to hoping that Dizzee doesn’t fall off as sharply as fellow UK rapper Mike Skinner (better known as The Streets) has. [Available for (legal) download only in the US, but don’t let that stop you.]

Dizzee Rascal On MySpace Music

New Tracks:
“Hard Back Industry”
“Excuse Me Please (Live)”

Queens Of The Stone Age/ Era Vulgaris – Shit yeah... now it’s on. The Queens are back and sounding more like themselves following the disappointing Lullabies To Paralyze. Early tracks bring to mind a darker version of Rated R and if the title track (which was left off of the album) is indicative of the outtakes, how fucking insane must the tracks that made the cut be? If you don’t believe me, listen to head Queen Josh Homme – “It’s dark, hard, and electrical, sort of like a construction worker…” Tell me you’re not down with that.

Queens Of The Stone Age On MySpace Music

New Tracks:
“Sick Sick Sick”

Art Brut/ It’s A Bit Complicated – Yeah, no… it’s not complicated. You suck balls and you’re overrated and unlistenable. Next.

Art Brut On MySpace Music

New Tracks:
“Direct Hit”
“Late Sunday Evening”

The Chemical Brothers/ We Are The Night – After a few lackluster records, the Chems returned with a force in 2005 with Push The Button, largely due to guest appearances including Q-Tip (A Tribe Called Quest), Tim Burgess (Charlatans UK), Kele Okereke (Bloc Party), and The Magic Numbers. They’ve toned down the reliance on friends with their new offering, preferring to see if the music can stand on its own. The jury’s out on this one.

The Chemical Brothers On MySpace Music

New Tracks:
“Do It Again”

The Mooney Suzuki/ Have Mercy – These douchebags rate an appearance on the all-time biggest sellout bands list. They gained some indie rock cred with their first few albums but pissed it all away after signing up to The Matrix to produce tracks on their last album then having one of their shitty-ass songs show up in a car commercial. Fuck them with a splintered plunger handle.

The Mooney Suzuki On MySpace Music

New Tracks (Listen At Your Own Peril):
“99 Percent”

The White Stripes/ Icky Thump – After spending the past year with side project The Raconteurs, Jack White has reunited with ex-wife/sister/college roommate Meg White to record what he describes as the “heaviest” Stripes album yet. The duo took longer to record this album than any of their previous five. Took ‘em a whole three weeks. The line for this one forms behind me, suckers.

The White Stripes On MySpace Music

New Tracks:
“Icky Thump”

Editors/ An End Has A Start – This one’s a bit of a surprise as one of 2006’s best new bands returns a scant year later with their follow up. If it's anything like its forbear, An End Has A Start has a chance to be something spectacular. Unfortunately, this date is for the UK release only but there are other ways to get hold of this one. What? I meant Amazon.UK, of course. Really – I did [cough].

Editors On MySpace Music

New Tracks:
“Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors”

Ryan Adams/ Easy Tiger – If you’re keeping track, this is Ryan Adams’s 146th release in the past three years. The disgustingly prolific Adams has (thankfully) returned to the classic rock sound of his masterpiece, Gold, at least on the basis of early tracks. If you don’t get a chance to check this one out, never fear – the year’s still young and Adams probably already recorded two albums in the time it took you to read this.

Ryan Adams On MySpace Music

New Tracks:

Beastie Boys/ The Mix-Up – If you buy or download this album, then the terrorists win. I’m not even joking.

Sorry – I refuse to provide you with a MySpace. You’re on your own if you want to hear this rubbish.